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tayker

What is a martini?

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Help me DrinkBoy Kenobi, you're my only hope.

 

Another thread I missed due to "real work" getting in the way of my drinking life... sigh...

 

You can find some of my ramblings on this topic here:

http://www.drinkboy.com/Essays/TheMartini.html

and here:

http://www.drinkboy.com/Essays/ThePerfectMartini.html

...and probably in some threads here on this forum, and various other random locations. As well as in Volume 1 of "The Mixologist: Journal of the American Cocktail" available via Amazon.com

 

The core of your original question however was:

"should the ignorance of a lot of people force the drink to change?"

 

The answer of course is no.

 

To bring this more into focus for "this" board, if lots and lots of folks are using the flaming sugar cube method with their absinthe, and since this has been being done now for going on 10 years, does that mean this can also be considered a "traditional" way to serve absinthe?

 

I recently got in a little argument with a bartender friend of mine, who I have nothing but the highest respect for. They said that just because the flaming sugar cube wasn't the "original" way absinthe was served didn't necessarily make it wrong. Lots of folks were doing it this way, and so I should be more accommodating to being open to change... or words to that effect.

 

Yeah, like THAT's ever going to happen. :->

 

But back to the Martini.

 

The ORIGINAL Martini was 50% sweet vermouth, 50% (sweet) gin, and a dash of orange bitters.

Back in those days, dry vermouth was just starting to become popular in drinks, as was the new-fangled "London dry" gin.... so if you wanted a Martini made with dry vermouth and dry gin instead of sweet, you'd order a "dry Martini"... and you would get 50% dry vermouth 50% dry gin, and a dash of orange bitters... this ratio gradually settled in to a 1 part vermouth 2 parts gin, or 1 part vermouth 3 parts gin (both with orange bitters)... that is until "The Great Cocktail Lobotomy" (ie. Prohibition) hit the US.

 

While the modern customer expects little more than a glass of cold gin (or vodka) when they order a "Martini", I would love to see the awareness of this classic cocktail return to a time when they really understood the "culinary" potential it contained, and could appreciate it when the bartender knew exactly how to make a drink which didn't taste like gin or vermouth, but something unique and special.

 

Sigh...

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You're thinking of a Caesar Salad.

 

;)

 

 

this ratio gradually settled in to a 1 part vermouth 2 parts gin ... (... with orange bitters)

That's how I make 'em these days. With a lemon twist. Olives may look classic, but they don't add as much to the drink, y'know? Where did that start anyway?

 

I like many people have a theory: the "Dirty Martini" evolved because a lot of people realized (subconsciously) that a glass of cold gin (or vodka) wasn't "all that" and needed to add a little something. Well, we all know that a Martini should have little or no vermouth, so olive brine was subbed for it.

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Olives may look classic, but they don't add as much to the drink, y'know? Where did that start anyway?

Momma said I should eat my veggies?

I found some really good herb and almond stuffed olives. I like to think of them as a tasty prize in the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.

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Not necessarily. I absolutely love olives. But I just don't think they cooperate with the other ingredients in a martini.

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So if I walked into a nice pub in the Netherlands and wanted the US version of a martini, what would I ask for?

I can't answer for the Netherlands, but in Denmark, you'd get gin + vermouth, if you ask for a martini in a bar that's even remotely cocktail-minded.

 

The vermouth with the brand name 'Martini' is something you drink, when you are 14 and on the prey in your parents' liquor cabinet. Noone knows why parents have it in the first place, though.

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I've grown to love what seems to be referred to as a 'smoky martini', which essentially replaces the vermouth with scotch. If it has another name, I'll gladly use it.

 

The 'highball' has run into similar problems. Originally (as far as I know) rye and ginger ale, it's now a generic term for liquor + mixer. So you have to order by ingredient half the time and the 'highball' name has lost it's meaning. Shame, because I love a proper highball and can't ever order that way :)

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I've never understood why you would add vermouth to gin. Or rather, why you'd add it to good Gin. If you ask me, the martini is a leftover from years of needing to fix crummy Gin or poorly prepared base alcohol.

 

I make Gin, and I fall all over myself to get the flavors balanced....and then some bartender wrecks it with some (usually crappy) flavored wine.

 

Same goes for a lime in a Gin and Tonic, although that's a bit different since your Gin is working with the quinine and carbonation.

 

Churchill martini. Only way to fly.

 

A nice vermouth is lovely on the rocks. It's wasted in Gin.

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I like gin.

I like a good Martini, too. Two totally different drinks, in my mind.

I believe I was tutored by a couple of the best.

 

Now, I suppose I'm going to have to get some of your gin and see how it compares. This is some hard work but I think I'm up to the task. :cheers:

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I like gin.

I like a good Martini, too. Two totally different drinks, in my mind.

I believe I was tutored by a couple of the best.

 

Now, I suppose I'm going to have to get some of your gin and see how it compares. This is some hard work but I think I'm up to the task. :cheers:

 

Well, you may actually be in luck, as you can get our Gin from the State of WY.....I don't know how far you are from the border.

 

I don't know how to say this without sounding like a pompous twit, but if you like Gin, I'm comfortable that you'll be happy if you can get your hands on a bottle. (how'd i do?)

 

And actually, Gin distillation was a big help when it came to producing absinthe. I distill all of my Gin botanicals separately, and blend them together later. I make cuts like a whiskey distiller would...discarding, as an example, the tails of a juniper distillation when it gets too 'piney'. It really helped me with botanical selection, as well as how to get the best out of vastly different plant matter.

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To quote one of my favorite bands, "it's Cold Gin time again!"

 

Such a nice spirit, tried a few martinis tonight in the manner of some that have suggested here, with a touch more vermouth and a twist - it was tasty, I was longing for the salt that I would get a with a dirty one, but the food made up for it - Oysters Rockefeller for an appetizer, and every so slightly seared ahi for an entree. My only regret was they didn't serve absinthe, and as far as I know no one in Orange County does.

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I've never understood why you would add vermouth to gin.

[...]

That's sort of like saying I don't understand why anyone would add water to whiskey, n'est ce'st pas?

 

Bypassing the fact that Churchill was an enormous alcoholic who brooked almost no interference between booze and his brain...

 

The big problem, as I see it, really is not the gin so much as it is the vermouth, at least here in the states. Anyway, most of the Dry Vermouth available here in the states is just complete crap. And Bacardi, which owns the distribution of the two main half way decent vermouth manufacturers, is a pretty evil company.

 

Cold gin, or vodka, is, well, cold gin or vodka. I like shots of gin, vodka, or jameson as much as the next man.

 

Gin, Dry Vermouth, Orange Bitters, chilled on ice to below 32 degrees, and served with a lemon twist is a cocktail.

 

~Erik

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I've never understood why you would add vermouth to gin.

[...]

That's sort of like saying I don't understand why anyone would add water to whiskey, n'est ce'st pas?

 

~Erik

 

Yeah, I'm just griping, is all.

 

I like Vya vermouth. But, again, it's so nice on its own.

 

I think that something that some of the classic cocktail buffs forget that a heck of a lot prohibition era cocktails were born out of crappy booze, and need to hide the spirit's flaws. Not the case anymore. I mean: bitters?? Pretty obvious as to why you'd need to toss that stuff into bathtub gin..... or crummy oil absinthe and rye. (and yes, I like bitters..and I like Sazerac just fine)

 

These days, there's so many fine spirits....and I'm a bit bummed that "drink this straight" is a pleasure that is, sadly, only reserved for straight whiskey, cognac, and Scotch. Cocktails are swell, but it'd be nice if a few bartenders would take some pride in what's on their backbar and serve at least one or two spirits neat, and say so on the menu...and then explain why someone should give it a try neat or on the rocks.

 

And 522 miles from Wyoming, T73? Do you live in the North Pole, or something? You gotta like the West: 10,000 miles from the next nearest State, at all times.

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You'll need to go back a bit further than prohibition for the origins of bitters in a cocktail which, by early (1806) definition was "a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters..."

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One of my coworkers, the one that usually inspires homicidal tendencies and who is not a real human being, defined a "traditional" martini as "vodka, vermouth and olive liquid".

 

 

 

I do mean that he's not a real human being.

 

 

 

 

Really.

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Now, we have found someone worthy of removing from the gene pool.

Yeah, I'm just griping, is all.

Allowed and encouraged. Now, I must also find Vya vermouth. :dry:

 

And 522 miles from Wyoming, T73? Do you live in the North Pole, or something? You gotta like the West: 10,000 miles from the next nearest State, at all times.
"Out West" is a big-ass place, ain't it? I tell people that Southeast Montana is closer to Texas than where we live in Northwest Montana but they don't believe it until they look at a map.

 

I'm striking out on Leopold Gin through my favorite online sources.

Anyone with access wanna help a brother out?

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I can help, the Leopold Bros. gin is available at my local liquor store (being a Westerner myself, that "local" store is about a 15 mile drive). Their Silver Tree Vodka and Absinthe Verte are also in stock ;) PM and we can get the ball rolling ...

 

Brian

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I'll admit to generally going down a shelf when mixing drinks vs. drinking neat. But the better the gin the better the martini.

 

And while I love a good neat drink; variety is beautiful thing, and there's a great art to a great cocktail. Without variety and art in our lives, it gets a lot more boring. So while Leopold may be a damn fine gin neat, why not work out a recipe for the perfect Leopold martini and embrace the versatility of it?

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And while I love a good neat drink; variety is beautiful thing, and there's a great art to a great cocktail. Without variety and art in our lives, it gets a lot more boring. So while Leopold may be a damn fine gin neat, why not work out a recipe for the perfect Leopold martini and embrace the versatility of it?

 

Totally agree, 100%. I'm just saying that you'll find a nice list of, say, Scotch at nice cocktail bars...with the implication that it will be served neat unless a customer says otherwise.

 

I'd just like bartenders to try and nudge customers in that direction every now and again with other spirits like Pisco or Gin. That's all. You're right...neat or on the rocks would get boring real fast when there are so many cool combinations out there.

 

I'm thrilled to find my Gin in any cocktail. When I said bartenders sometimes ruin my Gin, I'm not exactly referring to a bar where the bartender actually knows what he/she is doing, and actually thinks about ingredients he/she is using.

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I'm just saying that you'll find a nice list of, say, Scotch at nice cocktail bars...with the implication that it will be served neat unless a customer says otherwise.

 

I'd just like bartenders to try and nudge customers in that direction every now and again with other spirits like Pisco or Gin. That's all.

 

True enough. Don't know if it's just Seattle, but there are places that approach Tequila in a similar way, and every now and then you see Rum get the treatment. It appears to be a growing phenomena really. The idea that you can find 'fine' liquors in every breed. It just hasn't caught up to gin yet. I think that's in part to what started this whole thread ... 'martini' has come to be defined to some extent as 'cold gin'. So gin is getting the exclusive treatment by way of the modern martini. Whether that's as it should be or not is obviously up for debate :)

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